UNITED STATES - MAY 08: May 18, 1987 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover, Basketball: NBA Playoffs, Detroit Pistons Isiah Thomas (11) in action vs Atlanta Hawks Doc Rivers (25), Game 3, Inset: Auto Racing: Indy 500, Tom Sneva (33) in action during crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN on 5/24/1987; photo by John Smierciak/AP, Pontiac, MI 5/8/1987 (Photo by John Biever/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images)

When the news came out the Sports Illustrated was laying off their employees after being in business since 1954, I started thinking about my favorite Michigan Sports Illustrated covers. So many of them came to mind when you start thinking about Magic, The Bad Boys, Barry Sanders, Gordie, Yzerman, The 84 Tigers, JV…I can keep going. But Sports Illustrated was so much more than that:

What S.I. meant to me growing up

If you’re of a certain age you’ll remember knowing the day your Sports Illustrated would show up in the mail. I’d read it front to back, letters to the editor to Rick Reilly in the back (I always thought he was cool). S.I. was so much more than just great pictures – it told me wonderful stories about the players, teams and coaches.

The annual preview editions for any league (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) were a must read and I’d take them to school to argue rankings with my friends: “How the hell did they put the North Stars in front of the Wings?”.

You felt a closer connection to sports because of S.I. – I’d even save them for at least six months and then keep the ones I loved (the U.S. Hockey Gold Medal in the 1980 Olympics cover – forever).

There was also a mythology to the athletes back then. We didn’t know EVERYTHING about them, and when you saw photos of Magic jumping over Larry Bird you were convinced he was the greatest college player ever (at least I was). Or Bo Jackson breaking a bat over his knee or running over “The Boz” – he was the stuff of myth. He didn’t look human and I’d marvel at the pictures and stories.

Sports Illustrated was a big part of my life growing up. And I’m grateful for it (even if they did kiss Jordan’s ass for a couple of years). I wish they were around today to document the Lions season and this fan base.

 

 

  • Bill Laimbeer - Pistons Bad Boy (Nov. 5th 1990)

    If you were in Detroit you loved him. Outside of Michigan, he was probably the most hated player in the NBA…and we didn’t give a sh*t. The Bad Boys were exactly that – they’d knock you on your ass and complain to refs if a foul was called. Bill Laimbeer was our pain the butt, and we love him.

    Bill Laimbeer of Pistons

    UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 25: November 5, 1990 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover, Basketball: Closeup portrait of Detroit Pistons Bill Laimbeer (40), Detroit, MI 10/25/1990 (Photo by Theo Westenberger/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images) 

  • Magic Johnson vs Bird - April 2nd, 1979

    Where were you when these two giants squared off in 1979? Magic and Bird changed the way we watched basketball..the entire country wanted to see who’d win the game (and the game within the game between these two).

    Magic Johnson vs Bird NCAA Championship

    UNITED STATES – MARCH 26: April 2, 1979 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover, College Basketball: NCAA Final Four, Michigan State Magic Johnson (33) in action, making dunk vs Indiana State Bob Heaton (30), Salt Lake City, UT 3/26/1979 (Photo by Rich Clarkson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images) 

  • Megatron - Oct. 10th, 2011

    Calvin Johnson was a man playing among boys. I still laugh at some of the catches he made in the NFL (even when defenses tried everything to stop him). This catch against Dallas just a reminder of how amazing Megatron was…and what a blessing to have him in Detroit.

    Calvin Johnson of the Lions against Dallas

    October 10, 2011 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover:
    Football: Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson (81) in action, making catch and scoring game winning touchdown vs Dallas Cowboys Terence Newman (41) at Cowboys Stadium.
    Arlington, TX 10/2/2011
    CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images)

  • Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay - Jan 17th 1957

    This was a tough one. So many great Red Wings covers – but something about these two on the cover of Sports Illustrated back in the early days makes me smile. How many hockey players saw that picture and said “I want to be in the NHL”…or said “there’s no way in hell I’m messing with them”

    Gordie and Ted

    UNITED STATES – JANUARY 17: March 18, 1957 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover, Hockey: Closeup portrait of Detroit Red Wings Ted Lindsay (15) and Gordie Howe (9) in locker room, Detroit, MI 1/17/1957 (Photo by Richard Meek/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images) 

  • Desmond Howard - Sept. 14th 1991

    When it comes to Michigan football it’s all about the swagger. And NO ONE backed it quite like Desmond Howard – scoring the game winner against Notre Dame back in 1991. Wolverine legend.

    Desmond Howard - Michigan

    September 23, 1991 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover: College Football: Michigan Desmond Howard (21) in action and victorious, scoring touchdown vs Notre Dame Greg Davis (26) during 4th down. Ann Arbor, MI 9/14/1991 CREDIT: Duane Burleson/AP (Photo by SI Cover /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images) 

  • Alan Trammell - Oct. 13th 1984

    The 1984 Tigers (love this pic of Trammell going yard against the Padres in the World Series). I hope everyone in Detroit understands how amazing this team was, and how Sports Illustrated captured so many pics of Trammell and the gang during that season. One of the greatest teams in MLB history.

    Alan Trammell

    October 22, 1984 Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cover: Baseball: World Series: Detroit Tigers Alan Trammell (3) in action, hitting home run vs San Diego Padres. Game 4. Detroit, MI 10/13/1984 CREDIT: John Iacono (Photo by John Iacono /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images)

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